Do all-inclusive holidays really save you money?

Do all-inclusive holidays really save you money? Only if you don't leave the resort

All-inclusive holidays now account for almost half of all package holiday bookings - but will they really save you money? The answer is yes, sometimes - but only if you don't leave the resort.

If you are going to take an all-inclusive holiday this year, the best places to do so are Majorca, Marmaris and Crete. But think twice before booking all-inclusive in Spain and Malta.

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Post Office Travel Money has conducted its latest research into all-inclusive holidays to establish whether families travelling to Europe and further afield really do save money by going all-inclusive or whether they might be better off opting for a B&B package and eating out in local resorts.

In Europe the Post Office compared the cost in 10 destinations and found that families can save up to 27% - as much as £500 – by going all-inclusive in six of the destinations surveyed but that's provided they stick rigidly to what's included in the all-inclusive package and spend nothing extra on meals and drinks.

However, almost two-thirds of families splash the cash and spend an average of £271 in local bars and restaurants – and once they do that, the only destinations where it will pay to go all-inclusive are Majorca, Marmaris and Crete.

For those going to Spain, it will always be better to go B&B and have the pick of the local restaurants and bars with savings of 29% or £465 in the Costa del Sol and 19% in the Costa Blanca with a saving of £344 over the AI price. Best of all, families travelling to Malta can save a third - £646 – on a one week holiday by going B&B and paying for meals rather than taking the all-inclusive route. And even if they spent nothing at all on top of an AI package they can save around 20% in Malta going B&B and over 12% in the Costa del Sol.

And that's without allowing for the extra £339 that almost half of families (45%) spend on meals and drinks in their AI hotels/resorts.

In the long haul market the amount spent by families on all-inclusive packages is even greater – 71% spend an average of £321 on food and drink items away from their resort while almost 3-in-5 splashed out an extra £442 on meals and drink inside their resorts, over and above the paid for package.

Will you be going all-inclusive this year?

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World's best all-inclusive resorts
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World's best all-inclusive resorts

Bringing a new meaning to the term 'all-inclusive resort,' Laucala Island offers luxurious splendour of 3,200 exclusive acres in the Fijian Pacific archipelago and a staff ratio of 7:1. The beyond-five-star luxury private island resort is set amidst coconut plantations, sandy beaches, turquoise lagoons, rich green mountains and breathtaking natural beauty. The resort boasts 25 villas and gives guests the freedom to experience a variety of activities with spontaneity, ranging from pro golfing to beachside horseback riding, and watersports, including diving, snorkelling, surfing and game fishing. Romantic candlelight dinners on the private beach, fine dining in the Plantation House Restaurant, authentic Asian delicacies in the Seagrass Restaurant, spectacular sundown cocktails in the Rock Lounge, avant-garde finger food at the Pool Bar and barbecues at the Beach Bar all capture the tropical atmosphere. There is also a superbly stocked wine cellar which acts as a treasure trove for the most discerning of oenophiles. Scott Dunn offers seven nights at Laucala Island from £9,980 per person based on two sharing, including return flights, private plane transfer in Fiji, full-board in one bedroom villa, select wines and spirits and access to activities such as diving, sailing and cookery classes.

Situated along a white sand beach on Mexico's stunning Caribbean coast, Grand Velas Riviera Maya is fringed by lush tropical Yucatan jungle and natural freshwater wells locally known as cenotes. The resort offers an unparalleled all-inclusive experience with gourmet dining on par with some of the finest eateries in the world. The internationally-acclaimed Cocina de Autor signature restaurant was awarded five AAA Diamonds, the highest rating for restaurants on the American subcontinent (the equivalent of three Michelin stars). What’s more, the resort's spa boasts 40 treatment rooms and 75,000 square feet of relaxation space, with a revolutionary hydrotherapy circuit and an avant-garde menu of treatments inspired by the ancient healing practices of Mexico. Grand Velas Riviera Maya is divided into three different sections with their very own atmosphere: adults only ocean-front, family friendly ocean view and a Zen tropical setting. Each of the resort’s suites feature a balcony and some have private plunge pools. Kuoni offers seven-night holidays on an all-inclusive basis at Grand Velas Riviera Maya resort from £1,979 per person, including return flights from London Gatwick to Mexico with Virgin Atlantic and transfers. Quote tour reference KU0180 to book.

Enjoy all-inclusive heaven at the five-star Dream Gran Castillo Resort in Lanzarote, located in Playa Blanca, where there are super spacious rooms, 11 different swimming pools and an excellent kids' club to keep the little ones entertained. With four restaurants, including Guangzhou (Oriental cuisine) and Portofino (Italian), plus six bars, there are plenty of options for relaxing in the evening, while the Vitanova Spa is the ideal place to indulge in a session of thalassotherapy during the day. A seven-night all-inclusive stay costs is from £750 per night for two people.

Hip adults-only resort Couples Negril in Jamaica is surrounded by lush tropical gardens on one side and a white sand beach on the other. Expect a beachfront swimming pool, a spa situated over a natural lagoon and a fabulous selection of bars and restaurants. One for water babies, take advantage of the all-inclusive watersports including professional tuition for water-skiing, windsurfing and hobie cat sailing. Scuba diving is also on offer for certified divers and those not yet qualified can take part in a resort diving course and take a supervised dive to experience the underwater world of the Caribbean. By night, indulge in romantic dinners with a choice of Mediterranean, Asian and Caribbean cuisines, a beach grill and a selection of bars perfect for sipping on cocktails while looking out to the turquoise Caribbean Sea. Western & Oriental offers a seven-night stay from £1,085 per person based on two sharing a Garden Deluxe Room on an all-inclusive basis, including return flights from London Gatwick and transfers.

Buccament Bay Resort is the ultimate all-inclusive resort in St Vincent & the Grenadines offering more than just a meal plan and drinks on tap. The resort has built a strong reputation in the sporting world, signing up legends to coach at its sports academies, which include The Liverpool FC Academy Soccer School and the Pat Cash Tennis Academy. As well as football stars, Buccament Bay Resort lines up guest coaches, including netball's Sam Bird and Rugby's Lewis Moody. The Performing Arts Academy is also a must for budding singers and actors, with coaching sessions led by West End star Phil Cavil, Les Miserables' longest running lead. In addition, the resort has plenty of other experiences on offer, with a gym, world class spa, sunset cruises, volcano hikes and nature trails. Eating is an experience in itself and guests can enjoy award-winning steaks at Jacks, handmade sushi at Ginger & Co or a curry at Indian restaurant Safran. All accommodation at Buccament Bay is in individual villas with private plunge pools. Caribbean Warehouse offers a seven-night stay at Buccament Bay Resort on an all-inclusive basis for £1,149 per person, based on two persons sharing a one-bedroom garden villa based on October, November and December departures. Return flights from Manchester and inter island flights between Barbados and St Vincent are included, as well as all coaching at the sports and performing arts academy, a sunset cruise, spa treatment and private beach dining.

For affordable luxury in the Maldives, look no further than the new Atmosphere Kanifushi Maldives, which offers an all-inclusive Platinum Plus plan that allows you to budget and pay for your entire holiday before you go. The resort is located in the sparsely populated Lhaviyani Atoll just a 35-minute sea plane transfer from Male and specialises in offering the best of Maldivian culture and cuisine for less. The accommodation suits couples, families and friends alike, with 150 elegant detached villas in four categories, each offering direct access to the beach and spacious open-air bathrooms. In addition to covering all food and drinks at four different dining outlets, Platinum Plus also allows you to access to the first full-sized 50m swimming pool in the Maldives, a second swimming pool, a sports complex, a kids' club, live musical performances, sunset fishing, one from a choice of excursions to local islands, twice-daily snorkelling excursions, a daily programme of activities inspired by the local culture and resort-wide internet access. A seven-night all-inclusive stay with return sea plane transfers and return international flights costs around £2,000 per person.

Club Med's new luxury family resort, located just 30 miles from Hong Kong in the 'Chinese Maldives,' boasts a stunning setting overlooking the sea on remote Dong'ao Island, while offering a huge range of facilities for children and adults, such as water sports, hiking, and sailing and fitness academies. At Club Med Dong'ao Island, you can experience Tai-Chi, meditation and yoga for relaxation, as well as a L’Occitane spa offering reflexology sessions and massages on the beach in front of the China Sea. Upgrade to a 5T space and you can also enjoy a premium balcony room facing the sea, a cardio and yoga room and an outdoor infinity pool. The dining options include the main, seafood and Mediterranean restaurants, while there are four bars to choose from.

Go all-inclusive at Heritage Awali in Mauritius, where each room opens onto a private terrace, some onto the resort’s long white sandy beach. There are nine restaurants and bars to choose from, each included in the all-inclusive package, with Balafon offering buffet breakfast, English tea time and dinner, the newly refurbished Infinity Blue offering a la carte lunch and dinner, and Amafrooty offering a la carte snacks. One dinner per stay is included at Le Chateau de Bel Ombre, a romantic 19th century mansion, which offers a fine-dining experience with 90 per cent of ingredients sourced from around the estate. The all-inclusive offering also includes a one-hour spa experience at the award-winning Seven Colours Spa which features nine treatment rooms, a hairdressing and nail salon, a hammam, a hydrotherapy pool and a sauna. Guests have free access to the Umuzi Sports and Fitness Centre which offers aerobics, aquagym, yoga and tai chi classes. Free daily green fees and complimentary golf clinics at Heritage Golf Club are included and Heritage Awali is the only five-star all-inclusive golf resort in the world. At the C Beach Club, water sports are free of charge so guests can try out paddle boarding, windsurfing or water skiing and then relax with a cocktail by the poolside. And if that's not enough, the resort has its own nature reserve which offers quad biking and 4x4 excursions and fitness treks. Expressions Holidays offers low-season break from £1,915 per person for seven nights, including flights, private transfers and accommodation on an all-inclusive basis.

Set on Sharks Bay in Sharm El Sheikh, Xperience Sea Breeze Resort is an adults-only, five-star all-inclusive resort offering three buffet and a la carte restaurants, drinks at the beach and pool bar services, use of the Spa & Health Club’s facilities. Around the resort, you can relax on the private beach, in the five swimming pools, Jacuzzis or the rooftop bar. With 284 Xperience rooms and 20 deluxe rooms or suites have private balconies or terraces for enjoying the South Sinai’s blood-orange sunsets. A seven-night all-inclusive holiday, including flights, transfers, accommodation in a sea view room, all meals, drinks and many activities, costs from £689 per person with Olympic Holidays.
Designed exclusively for families, Beaches Turks & Caicos Resort Villages & Spa caters for the young to the young at heart. Children can enjoy hours of fun at the 45,000 square-foot Pirates Island Waterpark, featuring nine slides, a lazy river and thrilling 'surf simulator,' while the 12-mile white-sand beach, exclusive scuba programme and Xbox 360 Play Lounge will keep the teens entertained. From ocean view rooms and suites, to quaint villas, there is a huge selection of accommodation options, including the new Key West Luxury Village, which features more than 150 suites and villas, 20 of which offer exclusive personal butler service catering to families' every whim, private pools and three additional gourmet restaurants. The resort offers an impressive total of 19 gourmet dining spaces, so you don't have to eat at the same restaurant more than once.
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